I've watched a few "fast zombie" movies over the last few months -- 28 Days Later
and 28 Weeks Later
, I Am Legend
, etc. I also have a habit of reading up on movies I see afterwards, to find the trivia and background details that help flesh out the storylines. So it was interesting when, in the course of reading various interviews with the filmmakers, I found that they all had the same basic explanations for why their zombies were the way they were.
They're not supernatural or "undead" like in the old movies. They're just regular humans infected with a virus that makes them psychotic. These viruses were also said to leave the victim's adrenal glands open all the time, making them super-strong, ultra-fast, and impervious to pain.
I was also intrigued by this article from Cracked
(an outstanding scientific resource, I know) which discussed this concept. At one point they assert, "you are just one brain chemical (serotonin) away from turning into a mindless killing machine" and link to a study
showing the effects of serotonin depression in rats.
This all seemed a little fantastical to me, a doomsday scenario made to sound way too easy. It made me think of the ridiculous way radiation was used in comics a few decades back. In the Marvel Universe, gamma rays give you invisibility and the ability to fly. In the real world, it gives you leukemia. Surely the same must be true for the zombie thing. Of course, all the googling I did lead to a bunch of unrelated medical papers.
So I'm wondering: are these ideas plausible? What would be the effects of a constant adrenaline high on the human body? Would it really turn you into a hyperventilating superhuman, or just wreck your nervous system?
And what about that serotonin thing? Could the lack of one brain chemical really turn a person into a murderous psychopath? Or would it cause something much more mundane, like depression or schizophrenia or dissociation?
Lastly, what are the odds of any of these chemical changes being effected by a contagious virus (or a bacterium or injection, for that matter)? Could Rage or KV be created in the real world?